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Bad Santa (DC)
DVD disk
10.17.2006 By: Jason Adams
Bad Santa (DC) order
Director:
Terry Zwigoff

Actors:
Billy Bob Thornton
Tony Cox
Brett Kelly

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Each holiday season, a foul-mouthed, alcoholic con man poses as a department store Santa and, along with his midget-Elf partner, proceeds to rob the store on Christmas Eve. Will a naïve, overweight kid be able to teach him the true spirit of Christmas or will Billy Bob Thornton just crap in his stocking and tell him it’s coal?
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Filthy. Disgusting. Depraved. Absolutely hilarious. BAD SANTA is everything you look for in a Christmas move, unless you prefer all that “holiday cheer” and “goodwill towards men” stuff. It has an original story by the Cohen Bros., a fearless script and a great ensemble cast. As awesome as Tony Cox, John Ritter and Brett Kelly (the kid) are, the movie entirely belongs to Billy Bob Thornton. Thornton is a great dramatic actor, but this is the kind of role he thrives in—uncouth, unhinged and unapologetic. (Trust me, you’ll feel guilty for liking Willie the deranged St. Nick so much.) Seeing Thornton swear at a chubby eight year old and dry hump underage girls, while very, very funny, might not sound like it can't sustain an hour and a half motion picture, but there’s enough energy and balanced characters to keep it alive. And you even get the something of a nice Christmasy message, one that isn’t shoved down your throat in some big revelatory moment all GRINCH-style.

At this point I assume most of you have either seen BAD SANTA or at least heard enough about it to decide whether or not you should. So…what’s the deal with this director’s cut?

Terry Zwigoff is a talented director (see GHOST WORLD), but this new version is pretty unnecessary. Aside from a slightly tweaked ending, there really isn’t anything new. In fact, at ten minutes shorter than the unrated version and two minutes shorter than the theatrical, there’s a lot missing. The boxing scene is gone, the shootout at the end becomes a couple warning shots and worse yet, there’s less John Ritter! The director’s cut might work better as a “film” (the humor is a tad more subtle and the voiceover narration is thankfully gone), but I think the unrated BADDER SANTA was funnier. And with this kind of movie, the laughs are what ultimately count.

BADDER SANTA is an easy 4 out of 5 stars. This new Director’s Cut gets 3 stars…still funny, but not as good.
THE EXTRAS
A pretty lame double dip. I could understand putting out a less-funny Director’s Cut if it was packed full of extras, but what you have here are the exact same special features from the previous versions, except for a new commentary.

Commentary by director Terry Zwigoff and editor Robert Hoffman: Both men explain the differences in this version of the movie and are pretty honest about why they made the changes. (Two words: test audiences.) I can respect them for wanting to play things more straight and let the comedy arise naturally, but I probably shouldn’t have seen the more outrageous BADDER SANTA before this one.

Deleted and Alternate Scenes: Four scenes, a couple of which are excised stuff from BADDER SANTA, so that’s a plus. Look out for Sarah Silverman as a (hot) Santa “trainer.”

Behind the Scenes Special: A ten minute typical promotional piece with some interviews, BTS footage and a quick tribute to the late and great John Ritter.

Outtakes: Nothing uproariously funny, although seeing more of John Ritter’s prudish, uncomfortable faces makes me laugh and weep at the same time.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
After A CHRISTMAS STORY, BAD SANTA is probably my favorite Christmas movie, and a perfect antithesis to the traditional IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE feel-good holiday flicks. However, this new Director’s Cut doesn’t really add much, either to the movie or bonus materials. Stick with unrated BADDER SANTA.

Extra Tidbit: The F-word is used 147 times in this movie. Merry Christmas. Bring the kids.
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